Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Benjamin Barber: "Strong democracy does mean politics - citizenship - as a way of living"

The political theorist Benjamin Barber is perhaps best known for his book looking at the clash of the old and the new:

Jihad vs. McWorld is the title of a 1992 article that was later adapted into a book by American political scientist Benjamin Barber, in which he puts forth a theory that describes the struggle between "McWorld" (globalization and the corporate control of the political process) and "Jihad" (Arabic term for "struggle," here modified to mean tradition and traditional values, in the form of extreme nationalism or religious orthodoxy and theocracy). Benjamin Barber similarly questions the impact of economic globalization.
The book was based on a March 1992 article first published in The Atlantic Monthly.[1]The book employs the basic critique of neoliberalism seen in Barber's earlier, seminal work Strong Democracy. As neoliberal economic theory — not to be confused with social liberalism — is the force behind globalization, this critique is relevant on a much larger scale. Unregulated market forces encounter parochial (which he calls tribal) forces.

In the late 1970s, during the backlash against “turning kids into mini-consumers”, the Federal Trade Commission pushing for restrictions to be placed on marketing to children. Benjamin Barber worked with the FTC, 'family values campaigners' and the Consumers' Union:
Action for Children's Television - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Men Who Made Us Spend - Episode 3 - Video Dailymotion

He has shown a keen interest throughout his academic career in 'consumerism':
Consumed: How Markets Corrupt Children, Infantilize Adults and Swallow Citizens Whole: Amazon.co.uk: Benjamin R Barber: Books
The cultural contradictions of consumerism | spiked review of books
Glorfindel of Gondolin: Modern infantilism -- does Benjamin Barber have the solution?

Barber is particularly interested in 'civil society':
Benjamin Barber - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Civil society - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
CPN - About CPN
Stakeholder Forum - United Nations

Dr. Barber attended the No Boundaries symposium in Bristol, United Kingdom on February 26th.
Benjamin R. Barber | Political theorist and author of If Mayors Ruled the World
Home - Interdependencemovement.org

And a book which explored these themes is still very much in print:
Strong Democracy: Participatory Politics for a New Age: Amazon.co.uk: Benjamin R Barber: Books

In a strong democracy, people –citizens – govern themselves to the greatest extent possible rather than delegate their power and responsibility to representatives acting in their names. Strong democracy does not mean politics as a way of life, as an all-consuming job, game, and a vocation, as it is for so many professional politicians. But it does mean politics (citizenship) as a way of living: an expected element of one’s life. It is a prominent and natural role, such as that of “parent” or “neighbor”.[2]

There is a strong correlation with Participatory Democracy:
Participatory democracy - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
... and ParCon and ParPolity:
Participatory economics - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Participatory politics - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Barber has still very much to say about current issues:
Climate Change and the Politics of Interdependence | New Economy Coalition

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